|Arpaio speaking in Phoenix
on February 26, 2011
|Maricopa County Sheriff|
January 1, 1993
|Preceded by||Tom Agnos|
June 14, 1932 |
Springfield, Massachusetts, U.S.
Joseph M. "Joe" Arpaio (born June 14, 1932) is the six-time elected sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona. First voted into office in 1992, Arpaio is responsible for law enforcement in Maricopa County. This includes management of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, county jail, courtroom security, prisoner transport, service of warrants, and service of process.
Since 2005, he has taken an outspoken stance as an advocate for strong enforcement of immigration law, and has become a flashpoint for opposition to Arizona's SB1070, the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act. He is well known for attracting media attention, and styles himself as "America's Toughest Sheriff."
A controversial figure, he has been accused of abuse of power, misuse of funds, illegal immigration enforcement, and racial profiling amongst others. He is being sued by the U.S. Department of Justice and in a separate class-action matter for racial profiling. Arpaio is also known for his investigation of President Barack Obama's birth certificate, and his claim that it is forged.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Civilian law enforcement career
- 3 Personal life
- 4 Authority as Maricopa County Sheriff
- 5 Actions as Maricopa County Sheriff
- 5.1 Television and media coverage
- 5.2 Jails
- 5.3 Tent City
- 5.4 Volunteer chain gangs
- 5.5 Pink underwear
- 5.6 Selective Service registration and organ donors
- 5.7 Sheriff's posse
- 5.8 Controversies
- 5.8.1 Unconstitutional jail conditions
- 5.8.2 Improper clearance of MCSO cases
- 5.8.3 Failure to investigate sex crimes
- 5.8.4 Feuds with judges and County Supervisors
- 5.8.5 Abuse of power
- 5.8.6 Election law violation
- 5.8.7 Misuse of funds
- 5.8.8 Munnell memo
- 5.8.9 Staged assassination plot
- 5.8.10 Federal grand jury abuse of power inquiry
- 5.8.11 Illegal immigration enforcement
- 5.8.12 Racial profiling
- 188.8.131.52 Melendres v. Arpaio racial-profiling class-action lawsuit
- 184.108.40.206 Justice Department investigation on racial profiling
- 220.127.116.11 Department of Justice racial-profiling lawsuit
- 5.8.13 Investigation of Obama’s birth certificate
- 6 Election results
- 7 Books
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Arpaio was born in Springfield, Massachusetts on June 14, 1932, to Italian parents both from Lacedonia, Italy. Arpaio's mother died while giving birth to him, and Arpaio was raised by his father, a grocery store owner. Arpaio completed high school and worked in his father's business until age 18 when he enlisted in the United States Army.
Arpaio served in the Army from 1950 to 1954 in the Medical Detachment Division and was stationed in France for part of the time as a military policeman.
Civilian law enforcement career
Following his discharge in 1954, Arpaio moved to Washington, D.C. and became a police officer, moving in 1957 to Las Vegas, Nevada. He served as a police officer in Las Vegas for six months before being appointed as a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, which later became part of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). During his 25-year tenure with the DEA, he was stationed in Argentina, Turkey and Mexico, and advanced through the ranks to the position of head of the DEA's Arizona branch.
In 1992, Arpaio successfully campaigned for the office of Maricopa County Sheriff. The voters of Maricopa County re-elected him in 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012.
Authority as Maricopa County Sheriff
As elected Sheriff, Arpaio is the top law enforcement officer in Maricopa County. He is personally responsible for law enforcement in Maricopa County, including running the county jail, providing courtroom security, prisoner transport, service of warrants, and service of process. Arpaio delegates authority to deputies and other employees of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO).
Actions as Maricopa County Sheriff
Television and media coverage
Arpaio has, throughout his tenure as Maricopa County Sheriff, sought out media coverage. He has been featured and profiled thousands of times by worldwide news media, and claims to average 200 television appearances per month.
In late 2008 and early 2009, Arpaio came out in Smile...You're Under Arrest!, a three-episode Fox Reality Channel series in which persons with outstanding warrants were tricked into presenting themselves for arrest.
Arpaio's practices include serving inmates surplus food and limiting meals to twice daily. He has also banned inmates from possessing "sexually explicit material" including Playboy magazine after female officers complained that inmates openly masturbated while viewing them or harassed the officers by comparing their anatomy to that of the nude models in the publications. The ban was challenged on First Amendment grounds but upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
In February 2007, Arpaio instituted an in-house radio station he calls KJOE. Arpaio's radio station broadcasts classical music, opera, Frank Sinatra hits, patriotic music and educational programming. It operates from the basement of the county jail for five days a week, four hours each day.
In 2013, National Geographic Channel featured Arpaio's jail system in the Banged Up Abroad episode Raving Arizona televised worldwide.  The episode told the story of the Ecstasy dealer Shaun Attwood who started the blog Jon's Jail Journal  while in Arpaio's cockroach-infested maximum-security Madison Street jail.  Jon's Jail Journal went on to attract international media attention to the human rights violations in Arpaio's jail system. 
Arpaio set up a "Tent City" as an extension of the Maricopa County Jail. Arpaio has described Tent City as a concentration camp.   Tent City is located in a yard next to a more permanent structure containing toilets, showers, and an area for meals. It has become notable particularly because of Phoenix's extreme temperatures.
On July 2, 2011, when the temperature in Phoenix hit 118 °F (48 °C), Arpaio measured the temperature inside Tent City at 145 °F (63 °C). Some inmates complained that fans near their beds were not working, and that their shoes were melting from the heat. During the summer of 2003, when outside temperatures exceeded 110 °F (43 °C), Arpaio said to complaining inmates, "It's 120 degrees in Iraq and the soldiers are living in tents, have to wear full body armor, and they didn't commit any crimes, so shut your mouths."
In 1997, Amnesty International published a report on Arpaio's jails which found that Tent City is not an "adequate or humane alternative to housing inmates in suitable ... jail facilities." Tent City is criticized by groups contending that there are violations of human and constitutional rights. Those critical of Arpaio also point out that the vast majority of inmates within Tent City have not been convicted; rather, they are merely awaiting trial.
In 2005, Pearl Wilson whose son was murdered in Tent City, wrote a letter to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors asking for Tent City to be torn down. 
Volunteer chain gangs
In 1995, Arpaio reinstituted chain gangs. In 1996, he expanded the chain gang concept by instituting female volunteer chain gangs. Female inmates work seven hours a day (7 a.m. to 2 p.m.), six days a week. He has also instituted the world's first all-juvenile volunteer chain gang; volunteers earn high school credit toward a diploma.
One of his most visible public-relations actions was the introduction of pink underwear, which the Maricopa County Sheriff's website cites as being, "world-famous." Arpaio subsequently started to sell customized pink boxers (with the Maricopa County Sheriff's logo and "Go Joe") as a fund-raiser for Sheriff's Posse Association. Despite allegations of misuse of funds received from these sales, Arpaio declined to provide an accounting for the money.
Arpaio's success in gaining press coverage with the pink underwear resulted in his extending the use of the color. He introduced pink handcuffs, using the event to promote his book, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, America's Toughest Sheriff. Arpaio has said "I can get elected on pink underwear...I've done it five times."
Selective Service registration and organ donors
In 2001, he was the first sheriff to require all inmates aged 18 and over to register for the Selective Service System. (Registration is required by federal law for all U.S. males between 18 and 26 years of age, as well as for resident aliens of the same age, regardless of their immigration status.) Since 2001, a total of 28,000 inmates (including 9,000 aliens) have registered for Selective Service.
Building upon Maricopa County's 50-year-old program, Arpaio expanded the all-volunteer citizen posse through heavy recruiting. The volunteers perform many duties for the sheriff's office:
- Search and rescue
- Emergency communications
- Prisoner transport
- Traffic control
- Backup for sworn deputies
- Office administrative duties
- Holiday Mall Patrol (which provides motorist assistance and security for shoppers during the holiday shopping season)
- Deadbeat parent details targeting individuals with outstanding arrest warrants for failure to pay child support
- Assisting in immigration sweeps
- Current investigation of President Barack Obama's birth certificate
In November 2010, Arpaio created an armed illegal immigration operations posse, to help his deputies enforce immigration law. Members of this posse include actors Steven Seagal, Lou Ferrigno, and Peter Lupus.
Arpaio has been a controversial sheriff. His practices have been criticized by government agencies such as the United States Department of Justice, United States District Courts, and organizations such as Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Arizona Ecumenical Council, the American Jewish Committee, and the Arizona chapter of the Anti-Defamation League. The editorial board of The New York Times called Arpaio "America's Worst Sheriff". Controversial issues surrounding Arpaio have included allegations of racial profiling, in which the ACLU has sued the sheriff.
Unconstitutional jail conditions
Federal Judge Neil V. Wake ruled in 2008, and again in 2010, that the Maricopa County jails violated the constitutional rights of inmates in medical and other care related issues. This ruling was a result of a lawsuit brought by the ACLU, which alleged that "Arpaio routinely abused pre-trial detainees at Maricopa County Jail by feeding them moldy bread, rotten fruit and other contaminated food, housing them in cells so hot as to endanger their health, denying them care for serious medical and mental health needs and keeping them packed as tightly as sardines in holding cells for days at a time during intake."
In a ruling issued in October 2010, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered Arpaio to follow Judge Wake's 2008 ruling, which required Arpaio to end severe overcrowding and ensure all detainees receive necessary medical and mental health care, be given uninterrupted access to all medications prescribed by correctional medical staff, be given access to exercise and to sinks, toilets, toilet paper and soap and be served food that meets or exceeds the U.S. Department of Agriculture's dietary guidelines.
In the case of Braillard v. Maricopa County, the plaintiff's attorney cited numerous reports commissioned and paid for by Maricopa county, dating back as far as 1996, detailing a "culture of cruelty" where inmates are routinely denied humane healthcare at Maricopa County Jails run by Arpaio. Testifying in this case, Arpaio stated that he could not deny making the statement that even if he had a billion dollars he wouldn’t change the way he runs his jails.
Arpaio has publicly stated that his jails are meant as places for punishment, and that their inhabitants are all criminals. Most jail inmates are pre-trial detainees, who are considered innocent until proven guilty.
Improper clearance of MCSO cases
The sheriff's office failed to properly investigate serious crimes, including the rape of a 14-year-old girl by classmates, the rape of a 15-year-old girl by two strangers. These cases were "exceptionally cleared" without investigation or even identifying a suspect in one case which are not in accordance with the FBI standards for exceptional clearance. In the case of the 15-year-old girl, the case was closed within one month and before DNA testing was even complete, the 13-year-old's because her mother did not want to "...pursue this investigation," and the 14-year-old's because a suspect declined to come in for questioning. In a statement to ABC15, the Sheriff's Office claimed, "The Goldwater Institute’s report cites the FBI’s Uniform Code Reporting handbook, which is a voluntary crime-reporting program to compile statistical information and reports. The UCR is not intended for oversight on how law enforcement agencies clear cases...The Sheriff’s Office has its own criteria for clearing cases."
In an interview on the ABC Nightline news program, when asked to explain why 82 percent of cases were declared cleared by exception, Arpaio said "We do clear a higher percentage of that. I know that. We clear many, many cases – not 18 percent." Nightline contacted the MCSO after the interview and was told that of 7,346 crimes, only 944, or 15%, had been cleared by arrest.
Failure to investigate sex crimes
During a three-year period ending in 2007, more than 400 sex-crimes reported to Arpaio's office were inadequately investigated, or not investigated at all. While providing police services for El Mirage, Arizona, the MCSO under Arpaio failed to follow-through on at least 32 reported child molestations, even though the suspects were known in all but six cases. Many of the victims were children of illegal immigrants.
Justification for ignoring sex crimes
An internal memo written by one of the detectives assigned to the Morrison case blamed a high case load, saying the special victims unit had gone from five detectives to just three, and the detectives left were often called off their cases to investigate special assignments. They included a credit card fraud case involving the Arizona Diamondbacks and a mortgage fraud case in Arpaio's home city of Fountain Hills.
When county supervisors provided more than $600,000 to fund six additional detective positions to investigate child abuse in fiscal 2007, none were added to the sex-crimes squad. Sheriff’s administrators now say they have no idea where those positions were added or what became of the money after it was added to the budget.
A 13-year-old rape victim ignored
Among the victims that were ignored by Arpaio and the MCSO is Sabrina Morrison, a teenage girl suffering from a mental disability. On March 7, 2007, when she was 13 years old, she was raped by her uncle, Patrick Morrison. She told her teacher the next day, and her teacher called the MCSO. A rape kit was taken. But, the detective assigned to the case told Sabrina and her family that there were no obvious signs of sexual assault, no semen, or signs of trauma.
As a result of the detective's statements, Sabrina was branded by her family as a liar. Her uncle continued to repeatedly rape her, saying he would kill her if she told anyone. She became pregnant from him, and had an abortion. The family did not know that the rape kit had been tested at the state lab, and showed the presence of semen. The lab requested that the detective obtain a blood sample from the suspect, Patrick Morrison.
Instead of obtaining the blood sample, or making an arrest, the detective filed the crime lab note and closed the case for four years. Five years later Patrick Morrison was arrested and later admitted to his crime and was sentenced to 24 years in prison
The Morrison case, reopened after 4 years lying dormant
It was not until September 2011 that the Sheriff's Office finally obtained a blood sample from Patrick Morrison, which was a DNA match with the semen taken over 4 years earlier. It wasn't until February 29, 2012, that Patrick Morrison was arrested and charged with one count of sexual conduct with a minor, at which point the MCSO closed the case. Only later was Sabrina's uncle charged with additional indictments based on information obtained from Sabrina by a victim's advocate, after the MCSO had closed the case. Patrick Morrison ultimately pled guilty, and was sentenced to 24 years in prison.
In August 2012, Sabrina Morrison filed a $30 million notice of claim (a precursor to a lawsuit) against Joe Arpaio and Maricopa County for gross negligence.
In December 2011, responding to continuing media coverage of the controversy, and apparently unaware that there were hundreds of victims in these cases, Arpaio stated, in a press conference, "If there were any victims, I apologize to those victims."
Feuds with judges and County Supervisors
Over the two years prior to September 2010, feuding between Arpaio and former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas on one side, and the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors on the other side cost at least $5.6 million, most of which was paid to private attorneys. Arpaio and Thomas filed several lawsuits against the Board of Supervisors, including a federal civil-racketeering suit against the supervisors, four judges and attorneys who work with the county. Arpaio and Thomas lost every case, either by ruling of the courts, or by dropping the case.
In early 2010, Arpaio and Thomas sought to have a grand jury indict a number of Maricopa County Judges, Maricopa County Supervisors, and employees of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. The grand jury, in an unusual rebuke, ordered the investigation ended. This action has been described as meaning that "...the case is so bad, there's no further evidence that could be brought [to substantiate it]". Legal experts agree this is a rare move. Thomas and a subordinate attorney on his County Attorney staff faced a hearing later in 2011 before the Ethics Committee of the Arizona Bar, the result of which was a number of possible sanctions up to permanent loss of their law licenses. Thomas was ultimately disbarred.
In November and December 2010, lawsuits naming Arpaio were filed by Judge Gary Donahoe, retired Maricopa County Superior Court judges Barbara Mundell, Anna Baca, and Kenneth Fields, County Supervisor Don Stapley, Deputy County Manager Sandi Wilson, and Susan Schuerman, executive assistant to Supervisor Don Stapley. Conley Wolfswinkel (a business associate of Stapley) filed suit in January, 2011. Other targets of Arpaio's investigations, including Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, and Maricopa Deputy County Manager Sandi Wilson have filed notices of claims (the precursor to filing suit) totalling about $56 million.
Abuse of power
In February 2010, Judge John Leonardo found that Arpaio "misused the power of his office to target members of the (Board of Supervisors) for criminal investigation".
In 2008, a federal grand jury began an inquiry of Arpaio for abuse of power, in connection with an FBI investigation. On August 31, 2012, the Arizona US Attorney's office announced that it was "closing its investigation into allegations of criminal conduct" by Arpaio, without filing charges.
Arpaio was investigated for politically motivated and "bogus" prosecutions, which a former US Attorney called "utterly unacceptable". Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon has called Arpaio's "long list" of questionable prosecutions "a reign of terror".
The targets of Arpaio's alleged abuse of power have included:
- Phil Gordon, Phoenix Mayor
- Dan Saban, Arpaio's 2004 and 2008 opponent for the office of Sheriff of Maricopa County
- Terry Goddard, Arizona Attorney General
- David Smith, Maricopa County Manager
- The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors
- Barbara Mundell, Maricopa Superior Court Presiding Judge
- Anna Baca, former Maricopa Superior Court Presiding Judge
- Gary Donahoe, Maricopa Superior Court Criminal Presiding Judge
- Daniel Pochoda, ACLU attorney
- Sandra Dowling, former Maricopa County School Superintendent
- Mike Lacey, Editor, Phoenix New Times
As of July 2010, only Sandra Dowling has been successfully prosecuted. Indicted on 25 felony counts, Dowling eventually pled guilty to patronage for giving a summer job to her daughter, a single class-2 misdemeanor which was not among the original counts, although as part of the plea bargain she also agreed to recuse herself from the Maricopa County Regional School District. Dowling has since filed suit, alleging negligence, malicious prosecution, abuse of process and several constitutional violations, although Arpiao won summary judgment against her claims.
The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on August 29, 2012 that the Mike Lacy, Editor, of Phoenix New Times and other executives can sue the Maricopa County sheriff's office for their 2007 arrests.
Election law violation
During the month of July 2010, a committee established by Arpaio, the Campaign to Re-Elect Joe Arpaio 2012, funded advertisements critical of Rick Romley, a candidate in the Republican Primary for Maricopa County Attorney and Arizona Attorney General candidate Tom Horne, despite the fact that Arpaio was not running for re-election at the time (his term did not expire until the end of 2012).
An order issued on the behalf of the Maricopa Elections Department on August 24, 2010, found that one of the advertisements, a direct mailer, advocated the defeat of Romley, and was an in-kind contribution to Bill Montgomery (Romley's primary election opponent), in violation of Arizona election law. The order stated that the Campaign to Re-Elect Joe Arpaio 2012 will be fined three times the amount of money that was spent on the mailer. In September, 2010, Arpaio's campaign was fined $153,978 in this matter. Montgomery ultimately defeated Romley in the primary election, with Romley stating Arpaio's ads "hurt" his results.
Misuse of funds
The analysis showed that money from a restricted detention fund which could only legally be used to pay for jail items, such as food, detention officers' salaries and equipment, was used to pay employees to patrol Maricopa County. The analysis also showed that many Sheriff's Office employees, whose salaries were paid from the restricted detention fund, were working job assignments different from those recorded in their personnel records. Arpaio's office kept a separate set of personnel books detailing actual work assignments, different from information kept on the county's official human-resources records.
Separate investigations by The Arizona Republic uncovered widespread abuse of public funds and county policies by Arpaio's office, including high-ranking employees routinely charging expensive meals and stays at luxury hotels on their county credit cards.
The Republic also found that a restricted jail enhancement fund was improperly used to pay for out-of-state training, a staff party at a local amusement park, and a $456,000 bus, which was purchased by Arpaio in violation of county procurement rules.
In September 2010, a 63 page internal memo, written by Maricopa Deputy Chief Frank Munnell, was made public. The memo alleged years of misconduct and mismanagement by Arpaio's second in command and other top MCSO officers, including the use of a public-corruption task force to conduct politically motivated probes into political opponents. The memo alleged that top officials in the MCSO "willfully and intentionally committed criminal acts by attempting to obstruct justice, tamper with witnesses, and destroy evidence." Arpaio forwarded the memo to the Pinal County Sheriff's Office, requesting they conduct an administrative investigation. Former top MCSO staffers claimed that Arpaio knew of the acts alleged in the Munnell memo, but took no action to stop them. Arpaio has not commented publicly on the allegations.
In October 2010, the US Attorney for Arizona confirmed that the FBI and Department of Justice had received copies of the Munnell memo, and were conducting criminal investigations into its allegations.
Staged assassination plot
In 1999, undercover MCSO deputies arrested James Saville, then 18 years old, and charged him with plotting to kill Arpaio with a pipe bomb. A local television station had been tipped off to the arrest by the MCSO, and broadcast footage of the arrest that evening. The MCSO held a news conference shortly after the arrest, and Arpaio appeared in interviews on local television stations, saying "If they think they are going to scare me away with bombs and everything else, it's not going to bother me."
After spending four years in jail awaiting trial, Saville was acquitted by a Maricopa County Superior Court jury, which found that Arpaio's detectives had helped buy the bomb parts themselves and had entrapped Saville as part of a publicity stunt.
Federal grand jury abuse of power inquiry
As of December 2011, a federal grand jury had been investigating Arpaio's office on criminal abuse-of-power allegations since at least December 2009 and was specifically examining the investigative work of the sheriff's anti-public corruption squad.
On August 31, 2012, federal authorities said they’re closing their abuse-of-power investigation into Arpaio in Arizona without filing charges against him.
Illegal immigration enforcement
In 2005, Arpaio began focusing on illegal immigration enforcement, after Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas was elected with a campaign slogan of "Stop illegal immigration." Arpaio has stated that, prior to 2005, he didn't view illegal immigration as a "serious legal issue."
Arpaio has run a large number of employer sanction operations targeting business employing Latinos, and arresting employees who are illegal aliens for identity theft. According to Arpaio, 100 percent of the persons arrested for using stolen IDs in 57 raids conducted up until March, 2012, were illegal immigrants.
Arpaio maintains an immigrant smuggling squad which stops cars with Latino drivers or passengers, to check their immigration status.
Arpaio has said, of his anti-illegal immigration efforts, "Ours is an operation where we want to go after illegals, not the crime first...It's a pure program. You go after them, and you lock them up."
Arpaio has repeatedly denied racial profiling, although the MCSO does not have a policy specifically barring the practice, nor any reliable internal method of ensuring it is not taking place.
Melendres v. Arpaio racial-profiling class-action lawsuit
In 2007 Manuel De Jesus Ortega Melendres, a Mexican tourist who was a passenger in a car stopped in Cave Creek, Maricopa County, filed a lawsuit (Melendres v. Arpaio) against the Sheriff Arpaio, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, and Maricopa County, claiming to have been detained unlawfully for nine hours as a result of racial profiling. The lawsuit was expanded when several individuals joined in with similar complaints.
The lawsuit charges that Sheriff Arpaio and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) have unlawfully instituted a pattern and practice of targeting Latino drivers and passengers in Maricopa County during traffic stops, that MCSO’s practices discriminate on the basis of race, in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and have resulted in prolonged traffic stops and baseless extended detentions, in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
In his September, 2009 deposition in the case, Arpaio testified he had never read the complaint in the case, was unfamiliar with the details of the allegations of racial profiling therein, didn't know the content of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and had never read the Department of Justice's guidelines concerning the use of race in investigations, which would have applied to his deputies in the field when they were still operating under a 287(g) program agreement with ICE. He insisted, however, that his deputies don't profile based on ethnicity or race.
In a December 2011 order in the case, U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow sanctioned Arpaio and the MCSO, for acknowledged destruction of records in the case. The sanctions are in the form of “adverse inferences” against Arpaio and the MCSO that he may consider when deciding the case’s facts. In a subsequent order, Judge Snow found that the Plaintiffs would be entitled to inferences that MCSO officers did not follow a "zero tolerance" policy requiring them to stop all traffic offenders, that documents would have included a higher number of immigration arrests than records documenting ordinary patrol activity, that MCSO maintained a file of citizen complaints making requests for special operations, that MCSO received citizen complaints requesting that MCSO officers conduct special operations to enforce immigration-related law in areas where MCSO later conducted such operations, and that some of the citizen communications complained about "Mexicans," "day laborers," or "illegal immigrants" but did not provide a description of any criminal activity.
In his December, 2011 order, Judge Snow stated "Sheriff Arpaio has made public statements that a fact finder could interpret as endorsing racial profiling, such as stating that, even lacking 287(g) authority, his officers can detain people based upon 'their speech, what they look like, if they look like they came from another country.'... Moreover, he acknowledges that MCSO provides no training to reduce the risk of racial profiling, stating 'if we do not racial profile, why would I do a training program?'" Judge Snow expanded the complaint into a class-action lawsuit including all Latino drivers stopped by the Sheriff's Office since 2007, or who will be stopped in the future. He also enjoined the MCSO and all of its officers from "detaining any person based only on knowledge or reasonable belief, without more, that the person is unlawfully present within the United States, because as a matter of law such knowledge does not amount to a reasonable belief that the person either violated or conspired to violate the Arizona human smuggling statute, or any other state or federal criminal law."  In September, 2012, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld this injunction.
The plaintiffs in the case are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the law firm of Covington & Burling. The case was heard in US Federal Court in Phoenix, in a six-day bench trial which started July 19, 2012. On May 24, 2013, the U.S. District Court issued a decision in Melendres v. Arpaio that found the policies and practices of Arpaio and his office discriminatory, in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Justice Department investigation on racial profiling
In June 2008, the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division began an investigation of Arpaio amid accusations of discrimination and unconstitutional searches and seizures. The investigation was conducted under the authority of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which forbids discrimination related to programs that receive federal funds.
Lack of cooperation with Department of Justice
On July 7, 2009, Arpaio held a press conference, and announced that he would not cooperate with the investigation, either by providing documents, or permitting interviews with personnel. On September 2, 2010, the Department of Justice filed suit against Arpaio, to compel his cooperation with the investigation. A spokeswoman for the Justice Department stated that it was unprecedented for an agency to refuse to cooperate with a Title VI investigation, and that this is the first time the Justice Department has sued to compel access to documents and facilities. The suit was settled in June 2011, after Arpaio allowed federal officials to interview Sheriff's office employees, and review hundreds of thousands of documents for the investigation. 
Findings of Racial profiling
On December 15, 2011, the Justice Department released their findings after a 3-year investigation of Arpaio's office amid complaints of racial profiling and a culture of bias at the agency's top level. The report stated that under Arpaio, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office has "a pervasive culture of discriminatory bias against Latinos" that "reaches the highest levels of the agency."
The Justice Department accused Arpaio of engaging in "unconstitutional policing" by unfairly targeting Latinos for detention and arrest, and retaliating against critics. In the report, a Justice Department expert concluded that Arpaio oversaw the worst pattern of racial profiling in U.S. history.
Based on the Justice Department report on discriminatory policing practices within the MCSO, on December 15, 2011, the United States Department of Homeland Security revoked the MCSO's federal authority to identify and detain illegal immigrants.
In a separate action on December 23, 2011, U.S. District Court Judge G. Murray Snow enjoined Arpaio and the MCSO from "detaining any person based only on knowledge or reasonable belief, without more, that the person is unlawfully present within the United States," halting anti-illegal immigration enforcement by MCSO in its current form.
Department of Justice racial-profiling lawsuit
On May 10, 2012, the United States Department of Justice filed suit against Arpaio, the MCSO, and Maricopa County, alleging that "The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) and Sheriff Joseph M. Arpaio have engaged and continue to engage in a pattern or practice of unlawful discriminatory police conduct directed at Latinos in Maricopa County and jail practices that unlawfully discriminate against Latino prisoners with limited English language skills." A DOJ representative said that the agency was left with no choice but to file suit after Arpaio's attorneys balked at a demand for a court-appointed monitor to ensure the Sheriff's Office complies with any settlement terms. Arpaio has rejected the notion of a court-appointed monitor, and denied that the MCSO engages in racial profiling. In August 2013, U.S. District Court Judge G. Murray Snow stated in a court hearing that he will be assigning an independent monitor to prevent racial profiling in the future. The ruling outlining these changes is expected in September 2013.
Investigation of Obama’s birth certificate
On March 1, 2012, Arpaio and members of his Cold Case Posse held a news conference announcing their contention that President Barack Obama’s long-form birth certificate, released by the White House on April 27, 2011, is a computer-generated forgery. Additionally, the Posse’s six-month-long review included an examination of President Obama’s Selective Service card and contended that it, also, is a forgery. Their claims were presented at that press conference, and at a second press conference held on March 31, 2012. The allegations regarding the birth certificate were repeated at a July 17, 2012, news conference, where Arpaio stated that his investigators are certain that Obamas' long-form birth certificate is fraudulent. Some of the major claims presented by Arpaio at the July 17 news conference were subsequently shown to be false; specifically, the 1961 Vital Statistics Instruction Manual that Arpaio and his team claimed to possess contradicted what they claimed it said, and images shown by them, purportedly from from that manual, were instead from computer specifications dated 1968 and 1969.
In response to Arpaio's claims, Joshua A. Wisch, a special assistant to Hawaii’s attorney general, said in a statement, “President Obama was born in Honolulu, and his birth certificate is valid. Regarding the latest allegations from a sheriff in Arizona, they are untrue, misinformed and misconstrue Hawaii law.” Arizona state officials, including Governor Jan Brewer and Secretary of State Ken Bennett, have also dismissed Arpaio's objections and accepted the validity of Obama's birth certificate.
2000 election results
|2000 Maricopa County Sheriff's Office election, Arizona|
|Republican||Joe Arpaio (incumbent)||572,063||66.49||n/a|
2004 election results
|2004 Maricopa County Sheriff's Office election, Arizona|
|Republican||Joe Arpaio (incumbent)||642,923||56.74||-9.75|
|n/a||Steven W. Martin||142,296||12.56||n/a|
2007 failed recall petition
In November 2007, a group calling itself Arizonans for the U.S. Constitution and Recall of Joe Arpaio filed the paperwork to begin an effort to recall Arpaio and County Prosecutor Thomas from office for allegedly disobeying and violating the United States Constitution and abuse of power. Their petition to get a recall question for the two officials onto the next general election ballot failed when the group was unable to collect the more than 200,000 registered voter signatures required. In a survey taken by the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, while the petition was in circulation, nearly three out of four respondents opposed the recall, and 65 percent of the respondents held a positive opinion of Arpaio.
2008 election results
|2008 Maricopa County Sheriff's Office election, Arizona|
|Republican||Joe Arpaio (incumbent)||730,426||55.2||-1.54|
|Libertarian||Chris A.H. Will||35,425||2.7||n/a|
2012 election results
|2012 Maricopa County Sheriff's Office election, Arizona|
|Republican||Joe Arpaio (incumbent)||571,226||50.66||-3.7|
2013 failed recall petition
On May 30, 2013, a recall attempt failed on again Arpaio only a week after a federal judge ruled that the sheriff's office had engaged in systematic discrimination against Latinos in violation of their constitutional rights. Members of Respect Arizona and Citizens for a Better Arizona started the recall effort, but were unable to get the required 335,000 valid voter signatures by the 5 p.m. deadline.
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- The original source for the sobriquet "America's Toughest Sheriff" is unknown, however both Arpaio and his press relations staff aggressively promote its use. Note Arpaio's book, titled "America's Toughest Sheriff."
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- "Fred Graves and Isaac Popoca v. Joseph Arpaio". United States District Court for the District of Arizona. October 22, 2008. Retrieved 2013-03-03.
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- "Key evidence in Maricopa County Jail death suit of Deborah Braillard 'destroyed'". ABC 15. 2010-08-23. Retrieved 2013-03-03.
- Tony Ortega (1997-05-29). "Joe Assumes Deposition". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved 2013-03-03.
- "Justice Denied: The Improper Clearance of Unsolved Crimes by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office". Retrieved August 30, 2013.
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- "Goldwater Institute: Arpaio’s crime clearance rate a sham". AzCapitolTimes.com. 2009-05-22. Retrieved 2012-06-07.
- The numbers don’t match Arpaio’s hype http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/story/139717
- Fenske, Sarah (2009-05-28). "How the MCSO Neglected a 14-Year-Old Rape Victim". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved 2012-06-07.
- Bernstein, Josh (2009-05-21). "Sexual assault victim claims MCSO failed to do its job". ABC15. Archived from the original on 2009-05-23.
- East Valley Tribune, Pulitzer Prize winning series, Reasonable Doubt" http://www.pulitzer.org/works/2009-Local-Reporting-Group2
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- Billeaud, Jacques (December 4, 2011). "Critics: 'Tough' sheriff botched sex-crime cases". Boston.com. Retrieved 2013-03-03.
- Lemons, Stephen (2012-08-20). "Joe Arpaio's Deputy Told to Work Fraud Cases Instead of Child Rape Crime". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved 2013-03-03.
- "Arpaio’s office continues to investigate sex-crime cases". Casa Grande Dispatch. 2012-10-02. Retrieved 2013-03-03.
- Lemons, Stephen (2012-08-20). "Joe Arpaio's Deputy Told to Work Fraud Cases Instead of Child Rape Crime". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved 2013-03-03.
- Lemons, Stephen (2012-09-28). "Rape victim opens up about botched MCSO investigation". CBS 5. Retrieved 2013-03-03.
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- Lacey, Marc (December 9, 2011). "Arpaio Is Criticized Over Handling of Sex-Crimes Cases". The New York Times.
- Wingett, Yvonne (2010-09-15). "Maricopa County's officials tab for feuding hits $5.6 million". Azcentral.com. Retrieved 2010-09-23.
- "Maricopa County feud: What happens next?". The Arizona Republic. August 15, 2009.
- "Courthouse News Service". Courthousenews.com. 2009-12-01. Retrieved 2011-02-10.
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- Wingett, Yvonne (2010-12-28). "Stapley files lawsuit, claims he was wrongfully targeted". Azcentral.com. Retrieved 2011-02-10.
- Kiefer, Michael (2009-01-23). "Developer's office searched in Stapley case". Azcentral.com. Retrieved 2011-02-10.
- Wingett, Yvonne (2011-01-18). "Maricopa County sued by family of developers over probe". Azcentral.com. Retrieved 2011-02-10.
- "Judges file claims accusing Joe Arpaio, Andrew Thomas for abuse of power". Arizona Republic. May 28, 2010. Retrieved August 30, 2010.
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- [dead link]
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- Mike Sakal, Tribune. "Arpaio campaign fined for illegal mailers targeting Romley - East Valley Tribune - Arizona Local News". East Valley Tribune. Retrieved 2010-09-02.
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- White House: birth certificate
- The results of the investigation were published in the book, A Question of Eligibility: A Law Enforcement Investigation into Barack Obama's Birth Certificate and His Eligibility to be President, co-authored by Mike Zullo, MCSO Cold Case Posse Chief Investigator, and Jerome Corsi, an American author, political commentator and conspiracy theorist, with the introduction written by Arpaio. Paperless Publishing LLC (February 29, 2012), Amazon Digital Services, Inc., ASIN B007FWO19W
- The Associated Press (July 17, 2012). "Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio: Obama birth record 'definitely fraudulent'". Daily News (Los Angeles). Retrieved July 18, 2012.
- "Exposed: Sheriff Joe Arpaio Birther Scam — Here’s the Proof that Arpaio’s Posse Fabricated Evidence and Lied to the Nation". July 24, 2012. Retrieved November 17, 2013.
- "Brewer disagrees with Arpaio findings, believes Obama birth record real". East Valley Tribune (Tempe, AZ). March 6, 2012.
- "Arizona Officially Accepts Obama's Birth Record". Fox News Latino. May 23, 2012.
- "Maricopa County Recorder and Elections Department". Retrieved 2008-07-18.
- "Cronkite-Eight Poll". Arizona State University PBS channel. November 20, 2007.
- "Recall Petition Targets Sheriff Joe Arpaio". The Jawa Report. November 19, 2007.
- "Maricopa County Voters Support Thomas, Arpaio Over Recall Effort". Cronkite News Service. November 20, 2007.
- "Election Results". Retrieved 2012-11-11.
- "Recall effort against Arizona's Sheriff Joe Arpaio fails". LA Times. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
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